Cholesterol is divided into “good” and “bad” types. In his book “The Cholesterol Myth”, Dr Robert Buist points out that dietary processed polyunsaturated fats are far more damaging than cholesterol.
There is a great misconception about the role that diets have to play in the treatment of heart failure (dis-ease). The common cause of plaque build-up is cholesterol but this is complicated by calcium plaque whose presence is usually downplayed.
Cholesterol and fats.
Buist also states that the function of cholesterol-carrying low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is to carry cholesterol into cells, including arterial wall cells while high-density lipoprotein (HDL) has the task of removing cholesterol from cells (cholesterol being needed for normal metabolic processes such as hormone production and skin lubrication and as a foundation for cell walls), so producing a balance.
And recent discoveries lead to an even more precise picture – namely that low particle size LDL is the damaging form – and not all LDL. The trick is to determine what causes low particle size LDL and how to avoid it.
Given that 80% of cholesterol is manufactured in the body, the cholesterol problem of imbalance probably occurs when “bad” fats accumulate in the LDL, increasing its output and ratio over HDL. These fats (peroxides of triglycerides) come from heating of “polyunsaturates” – the so-called good oils! Food processing also changes these unsaturated fats into “trans” – or synthetic – fats. These oxidised trans (“synthetic) fats are sticky, brittle and join in loose clumps 9LDL), which cling to artery walls – and are prolific sources of the dreaded “Free Radicals” – which cause damage to artery walls, other cell walls and cause a variety of inflammatory disease including cancer.
Not only that but also fats (both triglycerides and cholesterol) normally occupy important positions in your cell walls, giving them flexibility & structural strength and assisting the passage of nutrient into cells and waste products out. Cell walls are composed of well over 50% of fats in this way. So, when oxidised trans fats take their place, the cell is starved of nutrient exchange – and accumulates heave toxic loads.
And yet, the current medical model appears to be to direct people to eat such fats in the form of margarines etc.
So, it is the accumulation of LDL, which is so toxic to arteries, causing the walls to thicken, become brittle, cause chunks to break off and produce embolisms. These cause clotting (thrombosis) which can accumulate and eventually cause a blockage causing a stroke, a clot in the leg, lung or elsewhere, or a heart attack. And remembers that they are taken inside the cells of the artery wall, where a set of events forms them into special nuisance cells called atheromas. Worse still, affected arteries in the brain can cause “Alzheimer’s disease by infarction” – a progressive splintering of tiny vessels in the brain, each of which causes a minute section of the brain to die. Inelasticity in major arteries can also cause aneurysms.
The bottom line of this story is to eliminate processed foods, go back to eating fresh foods and eating fats and oils from animals, seafood and olive oil. The Cholesterol Myth has many such suggestions.
Calcium builds up on the inside of artery walls forming plaque, so calcium must also be bad, right? Wrong again. The fact is that Calcium is actually needed by the artery and heart muscle (and indeed all other muscles) – as well as bone – in order to function normally. Once INSIDE muscle cells, it acts as a trigger, stimulating contraction of the muscle in the arteries and heart.
So why does calcium get inside and not outside? To solve this paradox, you need to look at how calcium moves in and out of bone and cells and why. Suffice to say that – in my opinion – calcium flooding of soft tissue will occur if the diet is deficient in that mineral. It can also occur in cases where it is taken to excess. Deficiency of dietary calcium causes the body’s life-balancing (homoeostatic) mechanism to draw calcium from the bones – and in extreme conditions – from arterial and heart muscle cells themselves. This movement of calcium back into the blood supply from reserves (“resorption”) is – in my opinion – the ultimate cause of calcium accumulation in soft tissue not far from its exit point (i.e. bone joints and artery walls). This possibly leads eventually to a deficiency of calcium reserves in the bones plus smooth and cardiac muscle (heart, artery cells and gut muscle cells). This would, in turn, lead to a reduced ability of these muscles to contract on demand.
What do you think if your heart muscle can’t contract on demand? I think it would respond by going into distress and causing pain. Oh, did I hear you say that that’s what happens to your growing son and daughters when they train at sport? Well, if it is, now you know why.
What about artery muscle cells? I would think that they would balloon out instead of holding shape and cause a bit of low blood pressure. Familiar again?
Is all of this going to add stress to your heart? You bet it is.
What are the susceptible ages for this phenomenon? I would say that it would be most critical in the growing young – especially in the puberty growth spurt – as well as pregnant and lactating women. But it can happen to non-pregnant adults also. Indeed, many adults may never recover from the growth deficiency.
And what of calcification? Soft tissue targets for calcification would obviously be bone joints, cartilage in the skull as well as the lumen of arteries, heart valves, lungs and kidneys.
The answer lies in taking calcium in a balanced way – through food and the water supply and supplements – and in forms, which the body can utilise effectively.
If your body receives a normal balance array of micronutrients on a regular basis, it will know how to safely eliminate a moderate excess. What it can’t successfully do is to create essential nutrients if they are deficient in your diet.
That doesn’t mean that you go overboard and take far too much. We just need to make up the difference on an ongoing basis.
Why Calcium supplements?
The Australian dietary surveys all point to the fact that around 70% of Australians are now deficient in calcium. How can this come about? Basically, Australia is a mineral-deficient continent. This is because our topsoil layer – the source of trace elements – is so thin. Consequently, our water and foods are deficient in trace elements.
Logic tells me that – if our normal food (and water) sources are only providing 600mg or so of calcium per day and our body needs 800mg to 1200mg per day or so (depending on diet, body weight and activity), then it would be wise to supplement that dietary deficiency. If you are pregnant or lactating, then your minimum daily requirement (MDR) is about 2,000mg per day.
Supplement with 600mg per day of calcium and balance it with about 250mg of magnesium. Beware of labelling tricks, poorly absorbed forms and cheaply made products. See our website for more info: wellnesscentre.com.au.
Why haven’t I recommended milk? There is a lot of information available now that most people are allergic – or sensitive – to cow dairy protein. (See website discussion on “food allergy” or read Bob Buist’s book on Food Intolerance or Peter D’Adamo’s book: Eat Right For Your Type).